How the Covid vaccine booking process for 12-15 year olds in England is changing

Teenager receiving Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: PA

In a change to the rollout of Covid vaccines for children, parents in England can now book Covid-19 jabs online for 12-15 year olds (as of Friday evening) with appointments available as early as this weekend.

The government announced it would rollout the jab to this age group last month, after accepting advice from the UK's Chief Medical Officers.

How can I book a jab online?

From the evening of Friday 22 October, you'll be able to get an appointment in England via the National Booking Service. Alternatively, you can call 119.

Healthy 12-15 year olds will be eligible for the jab - this accounts for around three million teenagers in the UK.

Those with underlying health conditions, or who live with someone who’s clinically vulnerable, are likely to have already been vaccinated.

Where will I get it?

They will be mainly be given at local vaccination sites during half term, however they will also be offered in schools afterwards.

What jab will they be offered and how many doses?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Moderna and the Pfizer jab for all people over the age of 12 in the UK, but the government said it would only offer the Pfizer vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds.

They will only be offered one dose because the JCVI was only asked to look at the impact of one dose. However, those with underlying health conditions, or who live with someone who’s clinically vulnerable, may receive two administered eight weeks apart.

How will consent work for parents and guardians and the child?

If your child is offered a vaccination at school, a consent form may be handed out to give your permission.

Parental consent will not be needed if the child is considered competent to make a decision by themselves – this is known as being Gillick competent.

In other words, children under the age of 16 can consent to their own treatment if they're believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what's involved.

Which other countries have been vaccinating children?

Countries in Europe including France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy are vaccinating children 12 and over.

Further afield, the US is also going ahead with plans to vaccinate those aged over 12.

In September, Chile became the first Latin American country to approve the vaccine for children aged six and over, South Africa started jabs for children as part of global trials for China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine.

Are there any side effects?

The most common side effects in children aged 12 to 15 are similar to those in people aged 16 and over.

They include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and fever.

These effects are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days.

The JCVI has also investigated the effects of myocarditis, after Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

In a statement in September, the JCVI said: "Overall, the committee is of the opinion that the benefits from vaccination are marginally greater than the potential known harms… but acknowledges that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the potential harms."